On January 21, 1919, eight Irish Volunteers ambushed a horse-drawn cart carrying gelignite to a quarry at Soloheadbeg, Co Tipperary. Two RIC officers were killed and their weapons and the explosives were seized. The volunteers acted on their own initiative and had not sought authorisation for their action.
The Irish Volunteers involved were Séamus Robinson (Commander), Seán Treacy (Coordinator and Planner), Dan Breen, Séan Hogan, Tadhg Crowe, Patrick McCormack, Patrick O'Dwyer and Michael Ryan, all from the 3rd Tipperary Brigade.
Like 75% of the membership of the RIC, the victims were both Roman Catholic Irishmen. (The two council employees accompanying them were unharmed). The ambush was roundly condemned by local priests, politicians and the local nationalist newspaper.
Constable Patrick O’Connell was 30 years old, came from Coachford in Co Cork and was about to get married.
Constable James McDonnell, a native Irish speaker, from Belmullet in Co Mayo and was a 56-year-old widower and the father of seven children.
This event is now conventionally regarded as the first action of the War of Independence.